Responsibilities Faced Offer Positive Consequences

Responsibilities should not be avoided

Josiah Stamp (1880-1941), former director of the Bank of England and Chairman of the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway, noted how important our responsibilities are. His wise counsel has much to offer Americans today.

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These are consequential times. What we say and what we do, individually and collectively, will have an impact on our future. And, as consequences become more apparent, the temptation is to levy blame. Those accusations, too, have consequences because they seek to, in Baron Stamp’s words, “dodge our responsibilities.”

The list of our responsibilities is long

As we seek to put The Big Lie behind us, the notion that the recent presidential election was stolen, and shift to our future, the nation seeks a common vision that emerges from commonly-held principles.

But the responsibilities seem endless and the horizon promising calm seems very distant, almost beyond our grasp. Consider this partial list we face today:

  • Climate Change
  • Economic Disparity
  • Hunger
  • Homelessness
  • Racial Inequalities
  • Public Safety
  • World Peace

As your eyes cross just considering the list above, remember it’s a partial list. It’s overwhelming. Why, how, can we be judged for consequences when it’s so difficult to define our responsibilities?

Respectful communication is our mutual responsibility

A start is to consider responsibilities that are close to home: respectful communication with those we disagree. This is a fundamental responsibility that opens doors, rather than closes them. It expands our sense of caring rather than hardens hearts, closes fists, and separates loved ones. It’s not an easy responsibility to take on, but consider the consequences.

Back in mid-January (seems like so long ago), Nicole Schuman and Seth Arenstein submitted an article for PRNEWS entitled, Tips for Communicating Internally and Externally in a Divided Country. First acknowledging that the country is divided politically, they quote Amy Brundage, managing director at SKDK consulting firm and a former Obama deputy communication director:

The responsibility of communicators is to ensure that messages rise above… division[s] and speak to a broad coalition of Americans.

They continue with three key points of advice:

  • Find Common Ground – quoting Alan Sexton, Prudential Financial CCO, they note:

If you take [values] as your starting point, are clear-eyed about the why and the outcomes you’re looking to achieve, you stand a good chance of ending up in the right place.

  • Listening is Key – Hannah Peters, WE Communication’s EVP, notes:

Respect [of] a range of perspectives and emotions and listening are the first steps.

  • Think Slow, Act Fast – They note Albert Einstein who said:

If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.

Sexton added:

The nation may indeed be divided, but the role of communicators is to offer consistency in our messaging—which ultimately must be about a respect for humanity and an appeal to decency.

Mutual responsibilities are for “We, the people”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks provides a wonderful perspective and advice via his TED talk (well worth watching!) about, How we can face the future without fear together. He tells us:

I think collectively we’ve got to get back to telling our story, who we are, where we came from, what ideals by which we live. And if that happens, we will become strong enough to welcome the stranger and say, “Come and share our lives, share our stories, share our aspirations and dreams.”

That is the us of identity. And finally, the us of responsibility. … My favorite phrase in all of politics, very American phrase, is: “We the people.” Why “we the people?” Because it says that we all share collective responsibility for our collective future. And that’s how things really are and should be.

… the only people who will save us from ourselves is, we the people, all of us together. …  when we move from the politics of me to the politics of all of us together, we rediscover those beautiful, counterintuitive truths: that a nation is strong when it cares for the weak, that it becomes rich when it cares for the poor, it becomes invulnerable when it cares about the vulnerable. That is what makes great nations.

… wherever you encounter the word “self,” substitute the word “other. “So instead of self-help, other-help; instead of self-esteem, other-esteem. … you will begin to feel the power of what for me is one of the most moving sentences in all of religious literature. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

We can face any future without fear so long as we know we will not face it alone.

Everyone’s voting voice is everyone’s responsibility

Communicating with each other is key among all of our other responsibilities. Our futures depend upon it. Notice it is an inclusive notion. You – Me – We. All of us. It is upon this foundational truth that Equal Voice Voting rests. As Voltaire, the French philosopher, said:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

You may vote for someone I hope loses an election. You may vote for a cause with which I disagree. I may well resist your support of either a candidate or a political point-of-view. But always, your vote should matter.

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) points to how we can better engage with the electoral college and gain a popular voting result on a state-by-state basis. All Votes Matter! explains how we can engage with this responsibility (not dodge away as Stamp cautioned) and enjoy a more democratic consequence.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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